How to clean a hairbrush to remove hair, lint, and build-up

Freshen up your beauty supplies and learn how to clean a hairbrush — your locks will thank you

Wooden hair brush on gray background
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's time to learn how to clean a hairbrush if your beauty tools are looking a little worse for wear. Not only does it look gross on your bathroom countertop, but a dirty hairbrush can also have a negative impact on your hair. 

Knotted hair, product build-up, and lint can all get stuck in your hairbrush causing your hair to look and feel greasy. If you're asking yourself, "When was the last time I washed my hairbrush?" it's time to give it a soak. 

Thankfully, it's pretty easy to pull off at home without resorting to buying a new one. We asked the pros for their cleaning tips and the best cleaning supplies to use to clean yours.

How to clean a hairbrush

After organizing your hair tools in the bathroom, look over your collection to see what needs sprucing up. Your hairbrush may need some extra attention but you can easily get rid of all that nasty debris with a few tips.

"Hairbrushes can build up dead skin cells, bacteria, and oil from the scalp so it's good to clean it every couple of weeks. You may need to clean yours more if you suffer from scalp conditions like dandruff," says cleaning expert, Karina Toner.

Karina Toner, Operations Manager, Spekless Cleaning
Karina Toner

Karina Toner is a cleaning expert and the Operations Manager at Washington D.C.-based Spekless Cleaning. 

Step 1: Remove hair

Pulling hair out of wooden hairbrush

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The first step to cleaning a hairbrush is to remove all the excess hair tangled in the bristles. Angela Rubin, a cleaning expert from Hellamaid, says, "Remove the knotted hair by pulling it out with your fingers or using a long, pointed tool like a comb or chopstick." 

If the hair is tangled very tightly, you may have to cut it out of the brush using a pair of sharp scissors, like these Scotch 6" Precision Scissors available on Amazon.

Angela Rubin, cleaning expert at HellaMaid
Angela Rubin

Angela Rubin works at Hellamaid, a top-rated cleaning company in Canada. Hellamaid are industry experts specializing in residential and commercial cleaning services. 

Step 2: Wash with soap

The good news is you don't need any fancy materials to wash a hairbrush. You can even use your own shampoo. Simply fill up your sink with warm water and add a few drops of shampoo or mild dish soap (like classic Dawn dish soap on Amazon) to create sudsy water. "Use a shampoo without sulfates for brushes with natural bristles like boar bristles to avoid damaging it," says Karina.

"If your hairbrush is plastic give it a good soak in the soapy water. If your hairbrush is wooden, try not to submerge it under water for too long," says Angela. 

Scrub in between the bristles with a scrub brush like these handy dish brushes from Amazon. For extra cleaning power, throw in a quarter-cup of white vinegar to help break down residue.

Step 3: Rinse and wipe down

Give your hairbrush a good rinse with cold water until it runs clear and all the debris is gone. Wipe down the handle and paddle with a clean towel. "Make sure to dry a wooden hairbrush right away and don't let it sit around in water," says Angela.

Microfiber towels, like this pack of 12 cleaning cloths from Amazon, are handy for quick clean-up jobs.

Step 4: Air dry

Place your brush bristle side down on a clean towel to air dry overnight. The moisture trapped inside should naturally escape and dry but you can give it a good squeeze to remove excess water before drying.

Cleaning hairbrushes and beauty tools are great ways to freshen up everyday items you may not have even realized were dirty. Now you just need a tidy place to get ready in the morning so make sure you're cleaning a bathroom the right way.

You may also need to declutter a bathroom if your beauty tools are overflowing. Then you can find new places to store skincare and toiletries in a small bathroom. 

Emily Lambe
Deputy Editor

Hey! I’m Emily and I’m the deputy digital editor at Real Homes. I’m here to bring you the latest decor trends, inspirational ideas and the best budget-friendly buys. I live in a rented apartment, making the most of small spaces and using accent pieces to make things pop. When I’m not writing, I’m usually doing yoga, eating chocolate or working on my skincare routine.